RIP Christo: Pay Tribute to a Pioneer of Large-Scale Environmental Installations

Christo at Floating Piers

Christo at The Floating Piers, June 2016 (Photo: Wolfgang Volz)

The art world has lost one of its great innovators with the death of Christo. The artist, who along with his wife Jeanne-Claude, was known for his large, ephemeral environmental installations, passed away on May 31, 2020 of natural causes. He was 84.

Whether he was surrounding islands in Miami with pink fabric or wrapping famous monuments, Christo's installations were a stunning display of ingenuity. “Christo lived his life to the fullest, not only dreaming up what seemed impossible but realizing it,” said his office in a statement. “Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s artwork brought people together in shared experiences across the globe, and their work lives on in our hearts and memories.”

Christo was born Christo Vladimirov Javacheff in Bulgaria in 1937, but he left the country in 1957 and traveled through Europe before settling in Paris the following year. It was there that he met Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, who became his artistic partner and wife. From their first collaboration in 1961, they solidified a unique manner of working. Together, their risk-taking and tenacity allowed them to pull off elaborate installations.

The couple eventually settled in New York City, where they lived for over 50 years. After Jeanne-Claude passed in 2009, Christo continued to carry out their artistic vision, executing impressive installations like the Floating Piers, which opened on Italy's Lake Iseo in 2016. Currently, he was working on plans to wrap the Arc de Triomphe in 269,097 square feet of fabric. It was a project first conceived by Christo and Jeanne-Claude in 1962. The installation had been set for fall 2020, but Christo's office confirmed that due to the coronavirus the work will now go up in 2021. Additionally, Paris' Centre Pompidou will be opening a major exhibition on the work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The show, which will cover their work and time in Paris, is set to run from July 1 to October 19, 2020.

Let's take a look at more of Christo's incredible work and pay tribute to the man who once wrote, “Beauty, science, and art will always triumph.”

Take a look back at the incredible environmental art of Christo and Jeanne-Claude.


The London Mastaba, Serpentine Lake, Hyde Park (2016-2018)

The London Mastaba by Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Photo: Wolfgang Volz


The Floating Piers, Lake Iseo, Italy (2014-2016)

The Floating Piers by Christo

Photo: Wolfgang Volz


The Gates, Central Park, New York City (1979-2005)

The Gates, Central Park, New York City

Photo: Wolfgang Volz


Wrapped Reichstag, Berlin (1971-1995)

Wrapped Reichstag by Jeanne-Claude and Christo

Photo: Wolfgang Volz


The Umbrellas, Japan-USA (1984-1991)

The Umbrellas by Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Photo: Wolfgang Volz


The Pont Neuf Wrapped, Paris (1975-1985)

The Pont Neuf Wrapped

Photo: Wolfgang Volz


Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida (1980-1983)

Biscayne Bay Pink Islands Christo

Photo: Wolfgang Volz


Running Fence, Sonoma and Marin Counties, California (1972-1976)

Running Fence Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Photo: Jeanne-Claude


Valley Curtain, Rifle, Colorado (1970-1972)

Valley Curtain by Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Photo: Wolfgang Volz


Wrapped Coast, One Million Square Feet, Little Bay, Sydney, Australia (1968-1969)

Wrapped Coast by Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Photo: Shunk-Kender

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

All images via the office of Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

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6 Environmental Artists Who Celebrate Nature and Promote Positive Social Change

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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